How Non-Profits Can Find and Attract Great Job Candidates

By Danielle Rocheleau

We’ve been talking quite a bit about finding and hiring great people — internally at Laridae, and also with almost every non-profit client we’ve worked with over the last 18 months. Attracting and retaining great people has been a challenge for everyone across the non-profit sector.

Non-profits are experiencing a range of challenges. We’re seeing smaller pools of qualified candidates for posted positions and uncertainty around how to recruit diverse candidates. More generally speaking, non-profits are experiencing increased competition with community partner organizations, challenges meeting the growing and evolving needs of the communities they serve, combined with increased complexity of needs and numbers of people requiring service.   

It’s a lot to tackle – especially when there are so many other things keeping your attention!

In this post, we share the “Laridae Way” to recruit great candidates. We’ll highlight the practices we teach our clients — and that we ourselves have adopted in our hiring processes — all of which are based on best-practice literature around recruitment.

For those of you who’ve graduated from our Management Training Program, this article will be a good refresher!

We’ll cover:

What are today’s candidates looking for?

The hiring landscape has changed. People’s expectations of employers are always evolving, and most job seekers put a lot of thought into whether to apply for a particular job.

More than ever, candidates are looking for employers who offer a positive work culture and support employee development and well-being.

Organizations that take a more traditional approach to recruitment, workplace culture, and benefits packages may struggle with how quickly things are changing. Paying attention to trends about what people are looking for is integral to connecting with the right candidates.

Key factors for job seekers

  1. Competitive salary and benefits packages: in a non-profit environment, this is naturally tough, so it’s important to think creatively about what you can offer candidates. Remember, people are driven by purpose, especially in non-profits, and compensation may be seen as simply a requirement for living. Consider ways that you can offer health insurance, paid time off and flexible work, and retirement plans.

  2. Opportunities for professional growth: research demonstrates that learning and development are key motivators for individuals seeking work. Be sure to consider how you can build things like training, mentorship, and career advancement into your workplace culture and your job postings.

  3. Flexible work arrangements: this is an increasingly difficult one for many organizations as we find our way out of the COVID-19 pandemic. To be in-person or not to be in-person – that is the question. Reflect on how you can offer flexibility, including remote work options, flexible scheduling, and paid time-off for family and personal needs that may complement your expectations for work and your compensation packages.

  4. A positive, inclusive, and supportive work environment that values diversity, equity, and work-life balance: this is integral. Not only to attracting the right people, but to ensuring the development of a strong team. These key factors will ultimately benefit the populations you serve, by creating a safe, welcoming space.

  5. Strong values and clear direction: people are driven by purpose, appreciate clear leadership, and want to live in alignment with their own values. Establish and communicate a clear mission and set of values that align with your ideal candidate’s personal and professional goals.

  6. A positive reputation: candidates are looking for an employer who is known for delivering meaningful service, and a strong track record of ethical and responsible business practices.

  7. Employee involvement in decision-making processes: being in the business of engagement, we consistently hear from staff groups that they want more consultation, connection, and collaboration. Your team members are right there with you; you’re in it together. They want to share their knowledge, experience, and feedback to help inform decisions and build your organization, collectively.

By getting clear on the principles your organization either already practices, or can work to implement over time, and by articulating how your organization lives them, you can attract and retain top talent and create a more positive workplace culture.

How to identify what you are looking for in a candidate

When hiring, it’s important to clearly identify what you’re looking for in a candidate. This clarity will help you recruit and communicate better with the right candidates for the role.

Key areas to clarify

  1. Essential skills and qualifications, such as education, work experience, and certifications.

  2. Key experience, competencies and personality traits, including soft skills like problem-solving skills, adaptability, communication skills, and lived experience.

  3. A clear description of the role and its responsibilities, including goals, performance expectations, and priorities.

  4. How the role aligns with the company’s values, mission, and culture.

  5. A fit with the team, including interpersonal and collaboration skills.

  6. Expectations around workplace flexibility, including travel requirements, in-person/hybrid/remote expectations.

By defining what you are looking for in a candidate, you can attract the right fit for the job and the organization, and increase the chances of finding someone who will thrive in the role and contribute to the company’s success.

How to create a great job posting

In our experience, transparency is key to finding the right candidate. Not only transparency about the role, but also transparency about you as an organization. Be creative in how you share this information, and how to engage people who might be considering applying.

Key considerations for a good job posting

To attract a strong pool of candidates, give a clear picture of the realities of the role. You job post should include language and information that is inclusive and appealing to a wide range of applicants.

  1. Use clear language and avoid jargon to make your posting accessible to as many people as possible.

  2. Include a clear and concise description of the role and responsibilities, as well as the skills and qualities the ideal candidate should possess.

  3. Focus on your organization’s values, mission, and culture, and highlight what’s most important to your organization, team, and community.

  4. Include information about flexible work arrangements, including remote work options, flexible scheduling, and paid time-off.

  5. Create a statement that all qualified applicants will be considered for the role, regardless of their background or identity.

  6. Explicitly invite all candidates to apply, including those from underrepresented groups.

  7. Outline your organization’s commitment to Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (EDIA), and include information about employee resource groups, diversity initiatives, and training programs.

  8. Be transparent about pay to allow individuals to determine whether or not they can make this role work for them.

Why is sharing the salary so important?

This is a big one. We strongly believe that this is an opportunity to set clear expectations and empower candidates to decide to apply or not based on their own situation and expectations. Being clear about the salary range in a job posting saves everyone time.

What about your organization?

How can you be clear about what it’s really like to work with your organization? Yes, we want to share the great, but it’s also important to set clear expectations about the not-so-great. This is a process of finding the right fit – for the organization and for the new team member.

At Laridae, we created a video and invited anyone considering the role to watch. Many candidates later shared with us how useful the video was in their decision-making process when considering whether to apply for a role at Laridae. Some even told us they watched it more than once! Who knew? We didn’t know what to expect, but are happy we tried it.

How to find the best candidates

Finding great candidates for non-profit jobs can be a challenge, but there are ways to make it easier. Here are some tips:

  1. Always be hiring: you meet so many people every day; when you find someone interesting, let them know. Invite them to an informal coffee chat on Zoom or in-person. Keep in touch. Timing is everything, and you never know when you’ll have the right role for them or they’ll be ready for a new challenge.

  2. Leverage your network: ask your friends, co-workers, and other people you know for recommendations of good candidates.

  3. Partner with others: you aren’t the only one with this challenge. Consider who you can collaborate with to create new candidate pools. Maybe there are other organizations interested in collaborating on hiring processes or job sharing. Consider local colleges and universities to find students and recent graduates who want to work in the non-profit sector. Remember post-secondary institutions also have their own job boards, co-op, and internship programs.

  4. Explore new posting sites and networks: look for websites and networks that specialize in non-profit jobs or connect with an audience you don’t often connect with. Some networks and websites to consider: Black Talent Initiative, Indspire, Canadian Black Standard, Indigenous Works, Pride at Work Canada, and your local new Canadian organizations or immigration councils.

  5. Get social: use social media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter to reach out to people who might be interested in working for a non-profit and leverage sites like Indeed and Charity Village to post your job broadly.

Next steps

Feel free to take a look at our Career Opportunities page to see how we frame up our job postings.

Additionally, our Management Training Program trains managers and leaders on current best practices in recruitment, hiring and on-boarding new staff.

If you’re interested in learning more, get in touch to set up a discovery call to talk about how we can help.